I've heard that the best defense is a good offense, but the President's sputtering hissy fit over the disclosure of his domestic spying ring is about as offensive as it gets. Is he angry at the New York Times who sat on the story for a year? Maybe they finally developed a conscience after the Bush administration used their reporter to leak preferential information during the build-up to the Iraqi war. In the words of George the First, "This will not stand."
Bush may say he's only eavesdropping on swarthy men telephoning the Middle East, but anyone who lived through the Nixon era knows that the next step is the "Enemies List." And when we are discussing domestic enemies, that may include anyone who ever crossed Karl Rove or pushed Cheney around when he worked for Gerald Ford. We already know the Republican blueprint for illegal domestic surveillance. Nixon was impeached for it and half of his cabinet went to jail. Bloggers and journalists of every stripe are wearing out that old Santayana quote about those not learning from the past being condemned to repeat it. This has to be the lamest lame duck we have ever had.
And it's not that there were any obstacles in the administration's way. A special court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is already in place and ready to sign warrants within hours of their request. And if they don't answer the door quickly enough, the Bush Leaguers had up to four days to inform them of any action taken to tap a cell phone. Even in the Bush copywrited "Global War On Terror,"
it is necessary to go through the motions just to give a wink to the Constitution. They make laws preventing tuna fishermen from casting nets so large and tightly woven that they catch dolphins. The same principle applies here. While fishing for evil-doers, a lot of patriotic Americans that just don't happen to agree with the President get tangled up in the net.
Bush is upset that he was caught in yet another in a string of stunning illegalities. And, let's face it, judging from the President's history, he didn't just make an end run around Congress and the Courts because they impeded his path. Bush is a slacker of historic proportion, so if he did not obtain court orders it was either because he was too lazy or no one explained the meaning of the law to him. For him to come out swinging and say these revelations will hurt our troops is the worst sort of demagoguery. Russ Feingold said it best, "Bush is not king."
Simply put, the Bush Leaguers' attempt to ignore the law and then to paint their critics as unpatriotic, stinks. This attempt at unchecked power to spy on American citizens is the moral equivalent of Joseph McCarthy snooping for Commies in the 50s. Maybe the Communist witch hunts were well intended at the beginning. But history shows that they were bad for our country and put a shroud over political dissent that ruined lives and lasted for decades. It finally got repugnant enough for people of good will to stand up and stop it. And all the Bushies had to do, and all they have to do now, is ask for a warrant.
These disclosures won't prevent the government from monitoring electronic messages. It will just make the evil-doers more clever about not using any "red flag" terms that might give them up. For instance, they won't be able to use any words that are inflammatory, err, make that volatile, or maybe, upsetting. And you can't mention by name that very real terrorist organization that means to hurt us, or the name of that tall, skinny, bearded guy who leads them. And don't discuss the new information regarding our military command structure outsourcing the job of capturing that tall guy to the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan. Make that; the rag-tag bunch of scamps that we financed to kick the Russians out in that far away place where the most recent unpleasantness was concocted. They let the tall guy go because, after all, he was one of them.
If the government intends to eavesdrop on American citizens, they should actually have to read the transcripts or listen to the conversations rather than collect masses of data and look for something that might be suspicious. Anyone who has ever been critical of Bush could end up in that naked pyramid. Correct that to say, anyone who says unkind things regarding the imperial power of the current regime runs the danger of being lumped together with people who really don't like us and wish to harm us in a very real way. Wait, that's not going to work either. How about, loose lips equal danger of arrest and incarceration without legal representation for indefinite periods of time. Well, never mind.